House Jams Alt Engine Down Pentagon's Throat

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The House Armed Services Committee has forcefully reminded the Pentagon that it has been ordered several times by law to build and fund a competing engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. To make sure the Pentagon gets the message, the House has added language authorizing an additional $526 million for 2009 to the program to pay for the second engine.

Taking aim at the heart of the Pentagons resistance, the House committee report accompanying the defense authorization bill, mentions the August 2007 and February 2008 test failures of Pratt and Whitneys F-135, the main engine.

"These test failure events cause the committee to remain steadfast in its belief that the non-financial factors of a two-engine competitive program such as better engine performance, improved contractor responsiveness, a more robust industrial base, increased engine reliability and improved operational readiness strongly favor continuing the competitive propulsion system program," the committee report says.

It adds a nice bit of tough love, saying that "the committee strongly urges the Department of Defense to comply with the spirit and intent of section 213 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181) by including the funds necessary for continued development and procurement of a competitive JSF propulsion system in its fiscal year 2010 budget request." For those who may not remember, the administration did not request any money for a second engine program in its 2009 request.

In addition to its forceful language, the House upped the ante over the Senates version of the bill. The Senate only boosted the spending by $35.0 million for long lead items for the F-136, being built by a team of General Electric and Rolls Royce. Lets see what position the appropriators take on this one.

-- Colin Clark

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